OK so it is the holidays and hard to avoid some of the delectable desserts made by friends and family. I’ve eaten way too many desserts – (luckily Valerie, my sister in-law, uses really good organic ingredients and not much sugar – and even without refined sugar everyone thinks her desserts are fabulous.) I also notice that the more I sit around on these cold and windy days the more dessert I want to eat! I got some exercise in this morning and noticed that today I didn’t need to sweet foods. A study just came out that concludes what has been everyone’s experience – that exercise can help get rid of the sweet tooth.
“The findings show, for the first time, that a 15 min bout of brisk walking, equivalent to ‘fairly light’ intensity exercise, reduces chocolate cravings…. This research extends previous evidence that has shown exercise to suppress appetite (Blundell and King, 2000 J.E. Blundell and N.A. King, Exercise, appetite control and energy balance, Nutrition 16 (2000), pp. 519–522. and reduce urges to snack (Thayer, Peters, Takahaski, & Birkhead-Flight, 1993)… Given that feeling lethargic, fatigued and the need for an energy boost has been associated with the consumption of high-energy food (Thayer, 2001), the present study highlights the importance of short bouts of physical activity as a substitute for other mood regulating behaviors such as sugar snacking. Sedentary behavior does not appear to reduce chocolate cravings, whereas being physically active does.”
So what does this say? We really need to get out and exercise. There was a recent research publication that showed short 15 minute bursts of brisk walking 3x a day is more beneficial than 45 minutes of prolonged exercise. Short short quick bursts of energy can wipe away that chocolate craving. The mechanism is likely that leptin and insulin sensitivity increases during exercise thereby reducing the need for increased blood sugars. Also gluconeogenesis causes an increase in blood sugar as muscle amino acids are broken down to form glucose.
I’m not saying chocolate is bad by any means. I love good dark chocolate. There have been numerous studies showing the benefits of chocolate. But if you get chocolate do get a good dark chocolate. Look for either Fair Trade and/or Certified Organic Chocolate for both environmental, sociological and health reasons. And if you find you are craving it too often and a bite or two does not eliminate the desire then put on some sneakers and run up and down the stairs 30 times….that should get rid of the craving.
Health, Peace and Prosperity in 2009
Licensed Dietitian / Nutritionist
Maynard, MA & Cambridge, MA